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The db's "Falling Off The Sky" Reviewed

Thirty years after Chris Stamey left the band and twenty-five years since their last album release, the dB’s return with a new record and a new musical message. They remember “Yesterday.”

On their new album, the dB’s move away from their original edgy power pop sound and move alternately into smooth grooves and sounds from the Summer of Love. The opener, Peter Holsapple’s “That Time is Gone,” includes ‘60s garage rock inspired organ bleats and the phrasing gives off a faint, but not unpleasant, whiff of Buffalo Springfield’s “Mr. Soul.” The charming cello chamber pop of Stamey’s “Far Away and Long Ago” is so ridiculously Beatle-esque that you expect Yoko to show up and break up the band before the song ends. It’s a genre exercise for sure, but a most impressive one. Stamey’s heavily layered, bizarre “The Adventures Of Albatross And Doggerel” throws a psychedelic kaleidoscope party in They Might Be Giants’ romper room. Goo goo ga joob.

Beyond those highlights, there is unfortunately not much to recommend this album. None of the songs comes close to matching the aggressive rock ‘n roll energy of the 2011 single “Revolution of the Mind.” While there is nothing to criticize in terms of craft, production, and musicianship, the songwriting and inspiration are lacking. The hallmarks of the best dB’s tunes – indelible choruses, wondrous joy, droll irony – are nowhere to be found. Here’s hoping that 2042’s “Landing on Terra Firma” is a solid return to form.

Grade B

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